Matthew receives SAFER grant to fund 3 more firefighter positions
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Saturday, Jan. 25, 2014

Matthew receives SAFER grant to fund 3 more firefighter positions

Matthews is getting three new firefighters, thanks to a $357,693 Staffing for Adequate and Emergency Response grant from FEMA.

The grant is part of $320 million the Federal Emergency Management Agency plans to award this year for hiring and volunteer incentives.

The money for Matthews will pay for three positions for two years. After that, the town is expected to pick up the tab.

Matthews Fire and EMS Chief Dennis Green has been participating in peer review for SAFER grants for several years and says the grant application process is tough and the standards are high.

Applications are sent through a computer for the first round of scoring. Those that score high enough are sent to peer review, where three fire-service professionals from throughout the U.S. evaluate each grant.

If the grant passes that level, it’s then sent to technical review to ensure it’s consistent with the SAFER program’s purpose and is worthy of an award.

This is the first time Matthews has applied and been awarded a grant to hire firefighters.

Green said the additional staff will help the department comply with National Fire Protection Association standards that call for 15 fire fighters/EMTs on the scene of a working fire within eight minutes 90 percent of the time.

The department also is in the running for a $736,020 volunteer-incentive grant that would provide additional volunteer incentives and help create a public relations campaign to attract more volunteers. That grant goes through the same selection process, and Green said the Matthews application for those funds is in the final phase. Officials should know if they will receive the grant later this spring.

There are no matching funds for either grant.

The town already had funded three additional firefighter positions and applications were already being accepted. Green said he’s thrilled he can  change that job posting from three positions to six.

“It’s amazing. It’s going to enable us to do some proactive community awareness activities, and with the increasing medical calls, it will be a real advantage. Everyone here is excited,” Green said.

“We feel so blessed that the council put in the money for the three additional positions and that we’re also getting this grant.

“We are on cloud nine. We feel that the community is really behind us.”

Melinda Johnston is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Melinda? Email her at m.johnston@carolina.rr.com.

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